Essay on Response to Judith Jarvis Thomson's A Defense for Abortion

Essay on Response to Judith Jarvis Thomson's A Defense for Abortion

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Response to Judith Jarvis Thomson's A Defense for Abortion

Judith Jarvis Thomson, in "A Defense of Abortion", argues that even if we grant that fetuses have a fundamental right to life, in many cases the rights of the mother override the rights of a fetus. For the sake of argument, Thomson grants the initial contention that the fetus has a right to life at the moment of conception. However, Thomson explains, it is not self-evident that the fetus's right to life will always outweigh the mother's right to determine what goes on in her body. Thomson also contends that just because a woman voluntarily had intercourse, it does not follow that the fetus acquires special rights against the mother. Therefore, abortion is permissible even if the mother knows the risks of having sex. She makes her points with the following illustration. Imagine that you wake up one morning and find that you have been kidnapped, taken to a hospital, and a famous violist has been attached to your circulatory system. You are told that the violinist was ill and you were selected to be the host, in which the violinist will recover in nine months, but will die if disconnected from you before then. Clearly, Thomson argues, you are not morally required to continue being the host. In her essay she answers the question: what is the standard one has to have in order to be granted a right to life? She reflects on two prospects whether the right to life is being given the bare minimum to sustain life or ir the right to life is merely the right not to be killed. Thomson states that if the violinist has more of a right to life then you do, then someone should make you stay hooked up to the violinist with no exceptions. If not, then you should be free to go at a...

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...ofeminists and pacifist feminists take to be characteristically masculine; it shows a willingness to use violence in order to take control. The fetus is destroyed by being pulled apart by suction, cut in pieces, or poisoned." Wolf-Devine goes on to point out that "in terms of social thought . . . it is the masculine models which are most frequently employed in thinking about abortion. If masculine thought is naturally hierarchical and oriented toward power and control, then the interests of the fetus (who has no power) would naturally be suppressed in favor of the interests of the mother. But to the extent that feminist social thought is egalitarian, the question must be raised of why the mother's interests should prevail over the child's . . . . Feminist thought about abortion has . . . been deeply pervaded by the individualism which they so ardently criticize."32

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